The Christ at the Checkpoint conference now taking place in Bethlehem bills itself as an “authentic” voice of local Christians. That may be, but it is by no means the exclusive voice of local Christians. The following is a response to Christ at the Checkpoint conference by Shadi Khalloul, chairman of the Aramaic Christian Association in Israel, spokesman for the Christian IDF Forum and a representative of those Arabic-speaking Christians who have chosen to embrace Israel, rather than fight against it.
A growing number of Israeli Christians have been speaking out with a new voice and calling for integration into Israeli Jewish society. At the same time, many of us are asking for a halt to the cynical use of local Christians as pawns in the Palestinian cause or other Arab efforts to destroy Israel as a democratic Jewish state.
Like the majority of Israeli Christians, I feel that many Church leaders are betraying the Christian message and ignoring the rights of fellow Christians in the Holy Land in service to Islamic propaganda against our country, Israel.
To see Christian leaders participating in anti-Israel political conferences like “Christ at the Checkpoint” makes me feel like vomiting. I am ashamed of the duplicity of these leaders. In Israel, these Christians enjoy full rights and freedoms, even the freedom to publicly slander the state without fear. By contrast, they and their families would quickly be killed for so publicly criticizing the Palestinian Authority.
Our situation in Israel is better than any other Christian community in the entire Middle East. As we have witnessed of late, many Christians across the region have been migrating or converting to Islam by force.
What worries us as Israeli Christians is seeing fellow Christian continue in their fearful approach to the Arabs by joining with those who routinely abuse and kill our own people in order to falsely accuse Israel, the only country in the region where Christians are actually protected.
Israel will continue to be the everlasting home and safe haven of the Jews, and also of its Christian, Druze and even Arab minorities. The world needs to know these facts and to understand that the people who would cynically put Christ at the checkpoint do not represent the real Christian voice in this region, or anywhere else in the world.
We all long for peace in the Holy Land, but not a peace based on lies that can only lead to trouble for local Christians.
Shadi's full article, which explains why local Christians can not accurately be described as 'Arabs' and why Israel offers the first chance in millennia for local Christians to reclaim their Aramean heritage, can be read in the March 2014 issue of Israel Today Magazine.
The upcoming April 2014 issue of Israel Today Magazine will feature follow-up stories regarding Christ at the Checkpoint and Messianic Jewish participation there.
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